Thursday, March 26, 2009

Record Red River crest of 42 feet approaching Fargo.. 52 foot crest forecast for Grand Forks

All eyes are on the Red River in North Dakota this weekend, as a record crest approaches Fargo. The Red is expected to crest at 42 feet at Fargo on Saturday (updated today from 41 feet) , the highest on record for that city. Extensive sandbagging and diking is ongoing in Fargo where contingency plans are being made in case the crest goes above projected levels. The crest will continue to move north this weekend reaching Grand Forks by Monday or Tuesday of next week. Latest forecasts have the crest reaching 52 feet in Grand Forks, about 2 feet lower than the record flood of 1997. NWS is predicting the crest to reach the MB border at Pembina between April 5th-10th, possibly at 1997 levels. Currently, the Red is expected to crest around 1979 or 1950 levels in Manitoba, the worst floods on the Red in the 20th century other than 1997.

Here are a few links to keep on top of the flooding situation on the Red this year.

NWS Grand Forks weather office

NWS flood forecasts

Manitoba Flood forecasts

Grand Forks Live Floodcam

Grand Forks Herald

Fargo News

Fargo floodcam

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Storm system continues to affect southeast MB/Red River valley with snow and blowing snow..

The storm system that brought rain, snow and ice to southern MB Tuesday continues to affect the area with snow and blowing snow today along with colder temperatures. The storm center is pushing slowly towards Kenora with snow and gusty winds on the backside of the storm affecting areas mainly over southeast MB and the Red River valley. Snowfall amounts of 5-10 cm are likely in these areas today, with the highest amounts expected east of Winnipeg where 10-15 cm is possible through tonight. Of greater concern are the strong northerly winds accompanying the snow today which are producing poor visibility in blowing snow in open areas and through much of the Red River valley. Highway conditions will be poor today through much of southern MB due to icy roads and poor visibility at times. This system will finally pull off Thursday with a welcome break from precipitation through the upcoming weekend.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Colorado low to bring round two of precipitation over southern MB

An intense low over the central plains will be moving north into Minnesota overnight and Tuesday bringing another round of precipitation over southern MB beginning tonight and continuing into Wednesday. Precipitation will move in as rain over the Red River valley and southeast MB tonight into Tuesday morning before it changes to snow in the afternoon or evening. There may even be a period of freezing rain during the transition from rain to snow Tuesday. Rainfall amounts from this second round of precipitation will likely be in the 10-20 mm range with locally higher amounts of 30 mm possible near the US border. Snowfall may accumulate 5 to 10 cm late Tuesday through Tuesday night into Wednesday. Snowfall amounts may be higher if the transition to snow is earlier than currently expected. Further west, the air will be cold enough for the precipitation from this system to fall as snow Tuesday, with significant amounts of 20 to 25 cm possible in areas west of the Red River valley. Winter storm and weather warnings are in effect for much of southern MB for this system.

Meanwhile, the province of Manitoba has released its updated flood outlook for the Red River today. It hasn't changed it's earlier forecast anticipating a 1979 level flood but still short of 1997 levels.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thunderstorms bring heavy rains to western MB.. rain to overspread Red River valley tonight..

A line of showers and thunderstorms brought heavy rain to western MB today, with unofficial amounts of 30-45 mm from southwest MB across the Riding Mountains through Dauphin. This area of convection will be moving off to the north and northeast this evening, but another area of showers and thunderstorms developing over North Dakota will spread over the Red River valley and southeast MB this evening and overnight. 10-20 mm of rain is likely in these areas by Monday morning with locally higher amounts possible in some areas due to thunderstorms. Watch for localized flooding as many ditches are near bank full and will not be able to absorb any excess rainfall. After a break Monday, more rain is on the way Monday night into Tuesday with another 10-20 mm possible, along with a change to snow by Tuesday night into Wednesday.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rain moving in Sunday.. more on the way Tuesday..

Models are coming in line that southern MB will be seeing two waves of precipitation starting tomorrow. On Sunday, a band of showers and possible thunderstorms will develop along the MB/SK border and progress eastward through the day, likely reaching Winnipeg and the Red River valley by late afternoon. Rainfall could be heavy at times, with amounts of 15-25 mm possible Sunday night over the Red River valley. This band of rain will move off by Monday morning, with little additional rainfall expected Monday into Monday evening. However another wave of precipitation is expected to move into southern MB overnight Monday into Tuesday as a storm system moves up over the Dakotas. This system is forecast to give another 15-25 mm of rain over southern MB, likely changing to snow over western MB Tuesday as colder air wraps on the backside of the storm. This colder air will likely change any lingering rain to snow over the Red River valley Tuesday night into Wednesday, with accumulations of 10 cm possible. All in all, it looks like a prolonged period of unsettled weather moving in between Sunday and Wednesday, with significant precipitation amounts that will elevate flooding concerns throughout southern MB. Stay tuned..

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Warming trend this weekend.. system threatens rain by Monday

Temperatures will be on the rise again this weekend as a complex storm system begins to take shape over the northern Rockies. This storm system will draw an increasingly warm and moist southerly flow into southern MB for Sunday into Monday with temperatures rising into the plus 5-10 range. The weather will become increasingly unsettled by Sunday night with an area of rain developing over western MB along an inverted trof slowly moving east towards the Red River valley by Monday morning. This trof may bring some significant rainfall to portions of southern MB, mainly west and north of the Red River valley with 15-25 mm possible. Current indications are rainfall amounts may be less over the Red River valley, with 5-15 mm Monday.. however embedded convection may give locally higher amounts. There should be a break in the precipitation Monday night into Tuesday morning before another wave of precipitation moves in Tuesday into Wednesday as the main storm system over the central plains moves up towards Minnesota. This will likely change precipitation over to snow over southern MB as colder air feeds into the system. There still remains considerable uncertainty in the timing and precipitation amounts with this complex and slowly evolving system.. so residents are advised to listen for updated forecasts and statements over the next few days on this developing situation. Whatever the case, melting temperatures and several days of unsettled weather will bring further flooding concerns throughout the Red River valley. Stay tuned..

Monday, March 16, 2009

Flood risk increases over southern MB

The province of Manitoba released its updated flood outlook today, and it is indicating that this years spring flooding in the Red River valley will likely approach 1979 and 1950 levels, the worst floods on the Red apart from the record 1997 flood (and the historic 1826 flood before Winnipeg was a major settlement). Flood forecasters say even with favourable weather conditions in the next few weeks, major flooding is likely this spring. Another major snow or rain storm may push flood levels toward 1997 levels especially towards the US border. Long range weather models are hinting at the development of a significant storm system moving across the plains/Prairies early next week with the potential for significant amounts of rain and/or snow across the Red River valley. This situation will be monitored closely as it will have a serious impact on the flooding situation should heavy precipitation develop. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Nice thaw on the way

A nice thaw is on the way over southern MB after last week's deep freeze left many wondering if spring would ever arrive this year. After flirting with the freezing mark yesterday, temperatures should get to about +1-2C today, and +4-5C for Sunday and Monday. This will start some significant melting of the snowpack over southern MB, so be prepared for sloppy streets and walkways for the next few days. Somewhat cooler weather is on tap by midweek into next weekend with models hinting at another spell of above normal temperatures next week. Has spring finally sprung across the Praires?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Snowfall from Tuesday's storm

Here's a nice graphic from NWS Grand Forks showing snowfall amounts across eastern ND and northwest Minnesota from yesterday's blizzard. A good swath of 20-30 cm from Fargo into northern MN. Over southern MB, snowfall amounts look like 2-4 cm across far southern Red River valley and southeast MB, with 5-10 cm in the Sprague area.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Blizzard set to hit eastern North Dakota to NW Ontario. Storm to clip southeast MB

A Colorado low storm system is forecast to track into the upper Mississippi Valley Tuesday through Tuesday night bringing heavy snow and strong winds just to the south and east of Manitoba. The storm is expected to bring snow into eastern North Dakota overnight into Tuesday morning, pushing into NW Ontario by afternoon. Snow is expected to become heavy late Tuesday through Tuesday night, along with increasing northerly winds that will produce blizzard conditions throughout eastern North Dakota, northern Minnesota, and NW Ontario. The heaviest snowfall is expected over northern Minnesota and NW Ontario where 20-40 cm is expected by Wednesday morning in places like Bemidji, International Falls, Duluth, Atikokan and Thunder Bay. Although the worst of the storm is expected to bypass Manitoba, the extreme southeast corner of the province will likely see reduced visibilities in snow and blowing snow particularly towards the US and Ontario borders in places like Emerson, Sprague and Falcon Lake. As such, a winter storm watch has been issued for these areas. People planning on travelling to North Dakota, Minnesota, or NW Ontario Tuesday into early Wednesday should be prepared to postpone travel plans due to the likelihood of poor travelling conditions and road closures from this major storm system.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Strong storm system may affect southeast MB Tuesday

Models are indicating the development of a major winter storm that is forecast to track across Minnesota Tuesday. Depending on the exact track of the storm, portions of southeast MB, including the Red River valley, may be affected by this storm system. At this point, the consensus is that the worst of the storm will affect areas south and east of Winnipeg including eastern ND, northern MN, southeast MB, and northwest Ontario with heavy snow and strong winds, with the possibility of blizzard conditions on the open prairies. However, the situation will be monitored closely to see how models handle this significant storm and what impacts it may have on southern MB. Stay tuned..

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Dense fog west.. freezing rain south

Travel outside Winnipeg is a bit hazardous this morning due to adverse weather conditions over southern MB. To the south of Winnipeg, a nearly stationary band of freezing rain along the US border has produced very icy conditions over the southern Red River valley, with numerous vehicles in the ditch off Hwy 75. Meanwhile, further west, dense fog is producing near zero visibilities over areas like Brandon, and Dauphin. Caution is advised if travelling outside Winnipeg today.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Environment Canada starts 7 day forecasts

As of today, Environment Canada has started issuing daily forecasts out to 7 days. Up to today, forecasts were issued out to 5 days which has been the case for the last 40 years or so. However increased computer power, more accurate models, and ensemble forecasting techniques has enabled EC to extend their daily forecast out to 7 days. Of course, these forecasts should be used as a rough guide only with a focus on trends rather than actual values. Note that forecasts for day 6 and 7 will be based on the Canadian ensemble forecast system, while forecasts for Day 3-5 will still be based on the 120 hr GLB model. Note also that all forecasts from Day 3-7 are automated from Montreal with no human input from local Winnipeg forecasters.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Coldest winter in Winnipeg in 13 years

The final stats are in, and it looks like the past 3 month period of Dec-Jan-Feb was the coldest winter in Winnipeg since 1995-96. The mean temperature over the past 3 months was -17.9C, almost 3 degrees below the normal winter average of -15.3C, and the coldest winter since 1995-96 with an average of -18.1C. All 3 months this winter were below normal, with December being the coldest from normal (-19.3C vs -14.4, or about 5C below normal) This likely gave the impression that this winter was longer and harsher than usual, which it was to some point. However, when looking at winters back to 1872 in Winnipeg, this past winter was not even in the top 30 coldest of all time. Winters in the late 1800s were considerably colder than now, and more recently, there were several winters in the 1970s that were colder than this past winter (see table below for list of coldest Winnipeg winters) So although this past winter was certainly the coldest in over a decade, it wasn't as severe as many other winters in Winnipeg history.

Winter of 2008-09

Dec 2008: -19.3C (normal -14.4C, 4.9C below normal)
Jan 2009: -19.9C (normal -17.8C, 2.2C below normal)
Feb 2009: -14.6C (normal -13.6C, 1.0C below normal)
overall: -17.9C (normal -15.3C, 2.6C below normal)

Top 30 coldest Winnipeg winters since 1872:

1. 1874-75... -23.0
2. 1886-87... -22.9
3. 1883-84... -22.3
3. 1884-85... -22.3
5. 1882-83... -21.7
6. 1892-93... -21.5
6. 1935-36... -21.5
8. 1887-88... -21.2
9. 1879-80... -21.0
10. 1978-79... -20.8
11. 1916-17... -20.2
12. 1889-90... -20.1
13. 1872-73... -19.9
13. 1875-76... -19.9
13. 1949-50... -19.9
16. 1893-94... -19.8
17. 1903-04... -19.4
17. 1964-65... -19.4
19. 1898-99... -19.2
20. 1961-62... -18.8
20. 1971-72... -18.8
22. 1906-07... -18.7
22. 1958-59... -18.7
22. 1973-74... -18.7
22. 1977-78... -18.7
26. 1965-66... -18.5
27. 1948-49... -18.2
28. 1942-43... -18.1
28. 1995-96... -18.1
30. 1966-67... -18.0